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UPDATE: How To Help The Victims Of The West Explosion

Update, Saturday, 11:15 a.m.: Thinking about taking a carload or truckload of supplies to help out the people of West? Don't. The little town is overwhelmed with donations of goods and clothing. Folks sorting through all the donations tell KERA's BJ Austin they've run out of room. The Dallas Morning News reports that cash is the most important thing needed right now.  There are plenty of other ways you can help, too. Here are a few:

  • Baylor Health Care System has posted a list of ways to help on its website.
  • United Way of Tarrant County is accepting donations for West victims online or at 817-258-8019.
  • This weekend, the Texas Rangers will hold a blood drive via Carter BloodCare and accept supply/monetary donations during their home series versus Seattle. Find out where and what to give.
  • The Knights of Columbus organization is taking donations for the West, Texas Disaster Relief Fund online. All you need is a credit card.
  • Dallas jewelry stamp f. is for frank is selling bracelets with "West TX" engraved on pewter plates (there's a "Boston" version as well.) All proceeds go the Red Cross.
  • To help with lost pets or to check on missing pets in the area, call The Humane Society of Central Texas in Waco at 254-754-1454.
    Read more here:
  • Some people are reaching out on social media sites. A page called Prayers for Victims of Waco/West TX Fertilizer Plant Disaster was created on Facebook after last night's explosion. Different organizations, including churches and fire departments, have posted on that page how they are helping out.
  • At Hillcrest High School, a school supply drive is being organized to collect items to send to students in West ISD. District officials say suggested supplies include pencils, pens, paper and binders. The school is also accepting donations beginning Monday, April 22 through Friday, May 3. 
  • And at W.H. Adamson High School, the athletic program will be accepting canned food donations tomorrow to send to families in West.
  • Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster says cash is the best and easiest way to give because needed items can be purchased in bulk at the best price. She recommended visiting the Red Cross website. People can also use their mobile device and text the word Red Cross to 90999, which is a $10 donation, she said.
  • The Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture posted on its Facebook page that it would be delivering items to West on Monday.
  • The Waco Tribune has posted a list of helpful links, including how to reach loved ones on its site.

Update, Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.: Listen to reporter Courtney Collins' interview with West resident Dawayne Sitton. The back door of his home was blown open and landed near his wife during the fertilizer plant explosion.

Update, 10:15 a.m.: Volunteer organizations are in full force in West. Some arrived last night, helping victims and responders to yesterday's explosion.

 Anita Foster, Regional Chief Communications Officer for the Red Cross North Texas Region, told reporter Bill Zeeble that she and her colleagues arrived about midnight, joining Austin and Waco Red Cross efforts.

Because it’s a small town, everyone knows each other, she said. Residents took in displaced individuals and families.

Update, 8:02: A survivor of last night's fertilizer plant explosion tells reporter Courtney Collins, who's in the town of West for KERA News, that his neighborhood "looks like a war zone."

Dawayne Sitton, who lives three blocks from the plant, said his wife was at home when the blast hit at 7:53 p.m. Wednesday.

"When the explosion happened, the back door blew into the living room and landed on the couch where she was sitting," Sitton said. "It came through the back door and blew the front door outward."

He said his wife has cuts on her feet but is otherwise okay.

"The community's coming together," Sitton said.

Our original post: Here’s what we know this morning about last night’s explosion in West, Texas, a small town north of Waco.

Waco authorities say between five and 15 people died and more than 160 people were injured.

The explosion happened at a fertilizer plant damaging numerous buildings, including 50 to 75 homes.

The blast was so strong, it registered as a 2.1 earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. People living as far as Waxahachie, 47 miles away, reported feeling and hearing the explosion.

KERA’s Bill Zeeble spoke this morning with Heather Beck of Waco’s Providence Health Center, which treated 65 of the injured last night and early this morning. She said most were treated and released. Twelve of the more seriously injured were admitted to the hospital. She said all had injuries consistent with an explosion.

Among the injuries: Broken bones, lacerations, bruising, abrasions, some head trauma, minor burns and respiratory distress.

“Because it was a fertilizer plant that exploded…So some first responders and people close to the area came in with respiratory issues,” Beck said.

More seriously injured patients went to the closer Hillcrest Hospital and some were flown to Parkland Hospital here in Dallas.Here’s what we know this morning about last night’s explosion in West, Texas, a small town north of Waco.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.